The wit and wisdom of Elizabeth Sloane

I  have just read the script of the uber-lobbyist movie ‘Miss Sloane’.

The movie is about Miss Elizabeth Sloane. She is a “Traditionally a free-market and anti-tax advocate, Elizabeth Sloane has more recently led a full-frontal assault on the Second Amendment, going up against the Gun Lobby in support of the Heaton-Harris Amendment on gun control; a veritable David vs. Goliath battle for the veteran strategist. Congress is set to allege that Ms. Sloane has made a career out of subverting American democracy.”

She works for “Cole, Kravitz and Waterman LLP


The script is full of gems. I cut and paste some of them below.


Not to emulate
There are things that I’d not recommend. She exists on a diet of  Benzodiazepines.

She has given all her energy to work and deals with physical needs via an escort service.

Her insights on lobbying and winning votes in Congress are insightful. They do, at times, seem questionable. But, in DC, I suspect these practices are mainstream.


  1. On lobbying

    Lobbying is about foresight. About anticipating your opponent’s moves and devising countermeasures. The winner plots one step ahead of the opposition, and plays her trump card just after they play theirs.
  2. Reframe

Palm oil is a key ingredient in Nutella. If the Federal Government taxes it at 300%, it’ll cost more for us to gorge ourselves on it.


Isn’t palm oil in pretty much everything?


We could have called it Soap Tax, but the public cares more about Nutella than it does soap. Ross did surveys.

  1. Movie extras

If no supporters, hire movie extras movie extras. She hired an actors to play doctors to ask questions to a Congressman  in public meetings / fundraisers.


  1. Know your subject

Know your subject, people! Failure to do so may result in the loss of a golden opportunity.

When I see you this afternoon, you’d better be ready to recite that tax code in Esperanto.


  1. Never cheat

A conviction-lobbyist never cheats; she exposes cheaters.


  1. Make complex issues simple

Less than 0.2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Would you like to know by how many orders of magnitude the American industrial revolution eclipsed them, so we could grow fat off all that Nutella.

  1. Know your facts

Esme’s our authority on gun control. When it comes to facts and figures, she has no equal.

  1. Know your team

  2. Know your issue

  3.  Put a human face

Mothers against guns marches, there was an online pledge to vote against anyone who opposes gun control-

  1. Count the votes for and against you

An entire wall is dedicated to bio mugshots of Congressmen, with red slashes over some and green ticks over others. Some have no markings. This is their vote count.


  1. Know the rules of procedure

217’s the magic number. 217 gets us a majority-


  1. Sound bite your issue

Yes. Pussyfooting isn’t memorable. Sound bites are, and the appropriate one here goes like this: anyone that desperate to get their hands on a gun shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near one.


  1. Record their position on film
  2. Do Prep

Has profiles done on each politician.

  1. Use your own close network
  2. Communicate

We need to market Heaton-Harris the same way they market Big Macs. We’re dropping direct mail pamphlets and buying ad space online instead. Alex, you’re in charge of the banners, you have a two o’clock with JWT on 14th Street. Now, to the phone banks.


  1. Study

Now, the second reason we’re here is that I’d like you all to read Packard’s exposé of psychological techniques of commercial advertisers from 1957.

  1. Communicate so it leads to action

Our phone pitch has to “burrow insidiously into Floridian brains?”


Yes. And so too your ad banners. They must burrow so deep, your targets are inspired to flood their elected official with pro-Heaton-Harris letters, and use those delightful social networks to implore their friends to do likewise. Now, read the exposé, and take to the media-verse!

  1. Use a whiteboard

– 11 VOTES LOCKED, 23 TO GO is scrawled on a whiteboard, underneath – DAYS TO VOTE: 148.


  1. Speak to each politician and count off the vote

Use others to speak with them.


  1. Not an easy job

I’ve gone through eleven doctors, they all want rid of me for ignoring their exhortations to slow down. I want to slow down. But this job is the only means I have of making myself useful.

22.  Idealology is dead – this is about self interest

 Did you know, ideology is dead? The philosophies of the left and right are driven by the self-interest of those who advance them.

Neither side cares for the merits of their argument; they just happen to spout it because it suits their position in the world.


  1. Simplify the message

Gunshot victims cost the American taxpayer $12 billion a year. That’s $32 per gun in circulation. Now get your house in order.


  1. Create a diversion

The whole Florida thing was a ruse?


  1. Expose politicians who are going to vote against you – Giant Rat

  2.  Make your case clear on TV & provoke the other side

This is the latest incursion into individual liberty by an all-powerful federal government-


What, like drivers’ licenses?


Drivers’ licenses? I’m not really seeing the connection.


It’s illegal to operate a car without going through rigorous theoretical and practical assessments, that’s a clear constraint on the freedom of individuals to drive cars, as with pilots to fly planes.!


Why, they’re a government incursion on individual liberty, are they not? We accept them because they make sense; the more dangerous the machinery, the more rigorous the tests should be. We wouldn’t want unfit drivers in cars any more than novice pilots flying 747s, because dangerous machinery in the wrong hands poses a threat to public safety. I think we can extend our definition of ‘dangerous machinery’ to semi-automatic firearms


And I can’t stand to see people hide behind it just as they hide behind the Bible to deny gay people rights. Literalists need to stop reciting their sacred parchments and exercise their brain power. If they can produce a rational winning argument, I’ll gladly migrate to their side, but ‘because it says so in the Constitution, the Bible, or my horoscope’ is not a winning argument.


It’s a ripcord; the intellectual equivalent of a yellow, pant-pissing wimp cowering behind mommy’s skirt.


  1. Go all out to win

I see you’re still in kill mode.


  1. You need scandal and controversy

Any of our friends in the media will tell you that’s only accomplished with scandal and controversy. Our message isn’t penetrating to younger voters, most of whom are pro, but few of whom are politically active. In short, we need to make gun control cool.


  1. Use celebritites

– Justin Timberlake’s Twitter page. #BeTheChange is all we need to see. Other celebrities follow suit.


  1. Morality

There are degrees of wrongness. Immoral as a harmless lie may be, it may be perfectly moral to tell a hundred of them to prevent a truly pernicious outcome. Lies and half truths are a lobbyist’s stock in trade. But I’ve never deployed one for a cause I didn’t believe in.!

  1. Make an earthquake

You didn’t hire me to get close. (To Ross)

What would it take to revive it?


Right now, it’s not even making it to the floor.


What would it take to revive it?


Seriously? An earthquake. Elizabeth nods, as if finally conceding defeat.


Well. I should get going.


  1. Promoting self-interest

My work as a lobbyist has been defined by a peculiar kind of conflict. I’ve made a career from defending my clients’ attempts to maximize their profit. I loathe to use words such as ‘duty’ and ‘responsibility’, because I don’t believe such concepts to be bases for human behavior. I’ve advocated strongly for self-interest as the only rational basis.


I recently told my attorney that ideology is dead; that people merely co-opt whichever political school of thought best serves their desire to profit personally. Looking back on my history of representations, I can only marvel at how wrong I was.


  1. Principle kicks in

I guess, sometimes, people challenge themselves – do things they don’t fully understand, that don’t make sense to them, or even things they’re not comfortable with… Not from any self-serving impulse to protect their lot, but as a matter of principle. Because they happen to believe, in the circumstances, it’s plainly and simply the right thing to do.

The truth is, I took on each and every one of my representations because I believed, as a matter of ideology, in the causes I for which advocated.

Some may regard this as ‘infantile, save-the-world idealism’, but I’ve come to realize that conviction lobbying served my interests very well; it catapulted me over the legions of mercenaries, to the very top of my industry; all without playing golf, or being a man.

My point is this, and there’s no better place to make it than on national TV, before America’s assembled press…



Lobbying is about foresight. About anticipating your opponent’s moves and devising countermeasures. The winner plots one step ahead of the opposition, and plays her trump card just after they play theirs. It’s about making sure you surprise them, and they don’t surprise you.

I anticipated that if I got sufficiently close with Heaton- Harris, there may be an assault against me personally to stall our momentum and tarnish our credibility.


  1. Have a Plan – and note the costs

Then it worked. I wouldn’t have moved without a plan to win. But for what? This was career suicide. No firm’s going near you, not now. You’re too high-profile.

I knew this would be my last hurrah the moment I conceived it.


  1. In her self interest


You’re the champion of self-interest,right? I fail to see how self immolation in furtherance of a gun bill is in your interests. This was disinterested altruism.

Career suicide might sound bad… but it’s not when you consider the alternative is suicide by career. Any of my eleven doctors would tell you I’ve served my interests very well.


  1. Do research

Everything is researched and checked.

Better Regulation & Ordinary Legislation in one easy chart

I wanted to put down in one easy chart how the Commission adopts ordinary legislation. This is the chart I came up with.

The advantage of the Better Regulation rules is that the process for adopting a legislative proposal is quite straightforward.

First, you have to go through the Better Regulation guidelines and toolbox.  If you don’t want to go through that, I have added a process chart.

Second, you need know who is involved in the Inter-service Steering Group and the Inter-Service Consultation at the Services and Cabinet level. You are going to need to know max around 50 people. That’s a lot less than 200 +  people you need to know when it goes to the ordinary legislation stage

Third, around a year after the political validation for the work to start, and the first road map/inception impact assessment, you are likely to see a legislative proposal being adopted.

Fourth, to be honest, the smoke signals that regulation in your area is likely to be seen many months and years before political validation. The only excuse for not seeing the signs is long term hospitalisation or political hibernation. After 25 years I  have not yet encountered a piece of legislative action that “came out of the blue”. As soon as the smoke signals are seen, and hopefully before, your work developing your case and story will start.

Finally, that gives you a few months to get your facts and story in a line to persuade 50 people that your solutions are the best and get them to back your side of the story.

The Progressive lobbying manual for today

Lobbying for Change: Find your voice to create a better society:  Alberto Alemanno

Professor Alemanno is an academic, lobbyist and lawyer. He has also written one of the best books on lobbying I have come across.

Every lobbyist who is serious about their craft should read it.

I picked it up today in the airport and finished it this evening.

For many years I worked for as a lobbyist for Progressive causes. This is the play book I wished had been written. I now work, most of the time, on the other side.

I consider that after the philanthropic community read this book they will require NGOs to follow the steps, activities and tips (see below).

This is an excellent manual or checklist of best practice on lobbying for progressives. After your read this book, read Chris Rose’s book on how to win campaigns.

This book is well written and absent from jargon.

What is clear that if you are serious about lobbying nothing can be left to chance. Perhaps because Professor Alemanno is a lawyer, the constant theme of written plans (updated) comes across.

This is a guidebook for any serious group of progressives. It is clear that technology has changed the rules of the game. It has made it easier for concerned citizens to activate a campaign. he means have been given, at low or no cost, for that campaign to be more effective and hit the right target audiences.


Part III “The Toolbox” should be re-titled “The Goldmine”.


10 Steps


Step 1: Pick your battle

Step 2: Do your homework

Step 3: Map your lobbying environment. Namely: 1. the lobbying target; b. your potential allies; 3. your opponents.

Step 4: Draw up a lobbying plan

Step 5: Pick your allies

Step 6: Raise money

Step 7: Plan your communication

Step 8: Face to face meetings

Step 9: Monitor progress and delivery

Step 10: Stick to the lobbying rules


He then goes on to explain how to do this in practice. What is being recommended is not easy. It is a lot of work.  But, he provides case studies where he or others have run and won citizen based lobbying campaigns.

Someone has taken the time to breakdown a model that works and shared it with the world for the cost of the book.

10 Actions

He lists clear activities for each step and then goes on to give useful tips.

Activity 1: Chart the issue and its solutions.  This looks look: 1. Problem definition: what the issue is, 2. Public consultation: what people think about the issue, 4. Design of the policy options: how to solve the issue, 4. Adoption: making a decision to adopt the solution, 5. Policy implementation: the implementation of the solution, 6. Policy adjudication somebody may challenge the solution(s) before the Courts, 7. Policy evaluation: how well the solution worked.

Activity 2: Map your issue

Activity 3: Prepare a background document

Activity 4: Look for pro-bono support

Activity 5: Identify lobbying target(s)

Activity 6: Draw a power map

Activity 7: Look for pro-bono help

Activity 8: Draw up a communication plan

Activity 9: Write your story

Activity 10: Blogging


22 Tips

  1. Pitch your issue
  2. Work as a network and be agile: He recommends Skype, Slack and Google Hangout
  3. Use pro-bono
  4. Gibe your issue a human face
  5. Be data driven, even without data
  6. Precedents matters
  7. Appearance matters – make the fact sheet slick
  8. Stakeholder profiling – do it
  9. Make a positional map with movable text boxes
  10. Submit your observations – take part in public consultations
  11. Draft your amendment
  12. File an amicus curiae brief
  13. When to launch an on line petition
  14. Coalition members’ inventory
  15. Don’t be afraid to ask for money
  16. Branding for the coalition
  17. How readable is your press release
  18. Mock interview
  19. DIY Digital Campaign
  20. Set up your blog
  21. Practice your empathy
  22. Prep your elevator pitch


I now have an easy test to know if a lobbyist is serious about their craft. I just look to see if this book is on their book shelf.

My review to does not do justice. There are too many gems in this book. Just go and buy and read it.


Before you start lobbying, here are 70 questions to answer

I just re-read some excellent political campaign advice from Chris Rose. His advice is well worth listening to. He’s the man behind Greenpeace’s Brent Spar win.

3 Stories

Chris recommends having 3 stories for your campaign

1. “The Popular story – understandable (test it out) by your relatives, neighbours etc.. The default story to use if in any doubt, and the only one to use with ‘the public’. No jargon.
2. The Professional story – the way the policy community see it. Jargon usually required here. This is the default internal campaign language but must not be allowed into the general public or media domain except maybe with trade/ professional press or policy community blogs etc.
3. The Political story – what’s in it for me as a politician (or CEO etc). This is not to be confused with the Professional story. Top decision makers are not interested in your campaign goals (that only annoys them), they are interested in the benefits to them and their organisation in terms of profits, career prospects, gaining advantage, being popular, not losing their job, and so on. These are your ‘benefit’ selling points. See also Bryceson’s Political Checklist.”

My campaign checklist

My checklist evolves over time. The older I get, and more campaigns I loose and win, I deliberately try and learn lessons from success and failure. I refine the process each time.

What I know that a lot of political campaign success is down to hard work by preparation. Getting the simple things right like contact lists of the key people or knowing the process you are involved in, is vital. Too many people forget it.

The more questions below you can not answer yes to, I think the less chance you have of winning. The questions have a common question “Do you know” and all you need to do is give the answer yes or no. The more positive answers the more you have a good chance to win.

If you were going to start a legislative campaign, here is a checklist


What are you dealing with
1. Do you know what legislative process are you dealing with? yes [ ] no[ ]

Tick which is applicable

Delegated Act
Implementing Act

2. Do you know where the proposal is in the procedure? yes [ ] no[ ]

3. Did the proposal secure a positive or negative opinion from the RSB? yes [ ] no[ ]
4. Do you know how the proposal went through ISC yes [ ] no[ ]
5. Do you know many Member States intervened in the ISC yes [ ] no[ ]
6. Did you get Member States to intervene yes [ ] no[ ]
7. Did you provide information to the public consultation to the Road Map yes [ ] no[ ]
8. Did you feed into the Impact Assessment yes [ ] no[ ]

9. Do you know where are you in the process yes [ ] no[ ]
Tick where the initiative is:

10. Do you know what your campaign budget is yes [ ] no[ ]
11. Do you know who signs off on the campaign plan yes [ ] no[ ]
12. Do you know signs off on the campaign budget yes [ ] no[ ]
13. Do you know who is in campaign team yes [ ] no[ ]
14. Do you know who decides on policy yes [ ] no[ ]
15. Do you know who decides on the key decisions yes [ ] no[ ]
16.Do you have SMART objectives yes [ ] no[ ]


Background Research
17. Do you know where do the key votes stand today on your issue(s) yes [ ] no[ ]
18. Have previous votes backed you yes [ ] no[ ]
19. Do you know which politicians (MEPs/Ministers) back you yes [ ] no[ ]
20. Do you know which politicians are against you yes [ ] no[ ]
21. Do you know which politicians can be swayed yes [ ] no[ ]
22. Do you know what the vote would be if it were held today yes [ ] no[ ]

23. Do you have a persuasive  position paper yes [ ] no[ ]
24. Do you have persuasive communication material to back your case yes [ ] no[ ]
25. Do you have amendments and explanations for your issue yes [ ] no[ ]
26. Have your tested your positions on key decision makers yes [ ] no[ ]

27. Do you have a working relationship with them yes [ ] no[ ]
28. Do you have their phone and email yes [ ] no[ ]
29. Do you have a local link with the politicians yes [ ] no[ ]

30. Do you know the Commission’s negotiation team  yes [ ] no[ ]
31. Do you know the Commission’s ISC leads at Service level  yes [ ] no[ ]
32. Do you know the Commission ISC Cabinet leads yes [ ] no[ ]
33. Do you know the Commissioners dealing with your issue yes [ ] no[ ]

34. Do you know the Rapporteurs yes [ ] no[ ]
35. Do you know the Shadow Rapporteurs yes [ ] no[ ]
36. Do you know the MEPs Advisers yes [ ] no[ ]
37. Do you know the Group Advisers yes [ ] no[ ]

Council/ Member States
38. Do you know the Chair of the Working Party yes [ ] no[ ]
39. Do you know the Working Party officials yes [ ] no[ ]
40. Do you know the lead Perm Rep leads yes [ ] no[ ]
41. Do you know the officials leading on the file back home yes [ ] no[ ]
42. Do you know the Minister leading on the file yes [ ] no[ ]
43. Do you know the Adviser to the Minister yes [ ] no[ ]
44. Do you know key decision makers in the Ministry yes [ ] no[ ]

Opinion Influencers
45. Do you know the key journalists on the issue in Brussels  yes [ ] no[ ]
46. Do you know the key think tank experts on the issue in Brussels yes [ ] no[ ]
47. Do you know the key journalists in your key countries on the issue yes [ ] no[ ]
48. Do you know the key think tank experts in your key countries on the issue yes [ ] no[ ]

49. Do you understand the process you are dealing with  yes [ ] no[ ]
50. Have you worked on the process before yes [ ] no[ ]
51. If not, can someone assist you yes [ ] no[ ]
52. Do you have an accurate copy of the process chart yes [ ] no[ ]
53. Do you know the triggers to move between the steps yes [ ] no[ ]

Think like a lawyer – you are looking to influence law making
54. Do you know the case your opponents are using against you  yes [ ] no[ ]
55. Do you have your response prepared yes [ ] no[ ]
56. Does you have a response that speaks to politicians yes [ ] no[ ]
57. Does your response speak to civil servants yes [ ] no[ ]
58. Do you have a response that speak to the public  yes [ ] no[ ]
59. Do you have indpendent evidence to support you  yes [ ] no[ ]
60. Do you have a legal opinion to support your case yes [ ] no[ ]
61. Did you particpate in all the preparation phases yes [ ] no[ ]
62. Did you suppy the answers yes [ ] no[ ]
63. Did you supply the points your now rely on yes [ ] no[ ]
64. Do you have a scientific /technical case that concerns the other side yes [ ] no[ ]

Public Communication

65. Does you have a response that speaks to politicians yes [ ] no[ ]
66. Does your response speak to civil servants yes [ ] no[ ]
67. Do you have a response that speak to the public  yes [ ] no[ ]
68. Does your story speak to settler, prospectors, and pioneers yes [ ] no[ ]
69. Do you have communication material available  yes [ ] no[ ]
70. Do you have someone to run the publication communication work  yes [ ] no[ ]


It is long post and list. The more  questions you can answer immediately, the less work you will have in the future, and the more chance you will win.